True Blue Andrew Johns has revealed the concussions and head knocks he suffered throughout his distinguished career may have contributed to his seizures which was recently diagnosed as epilepsy.
The Rugby League Immortal appeared on his brother’s program on Fox League, Sunday Night with Matty Johns, to discuss a range of topics including his recent health scare.
Andrew’s battle with epilepsy first became public knowledge last year when it was reported he had collapsed at a coffee shop during a family holiday in Yamba on the far northern coast of NSW.
He visited specialists in Melbourne to learn the full extent of the problem and told Matthew he had been diagnosed with mild frontal lobe epilepsy which could be managed by medication.
He is no longer allowed to drive a car and has had to change his approach to his favourite pastime of surfing after being warned by doctors he should no longer go in the water alone.
“I’ve been on medication for about three years now for it but they’ve upped it right up,” Andrew said. “The last two or three months since the last seizure, I feel really clear.”
Andrew’ toughness as a halfback at the Newcastle Knights where he won two premierships could never be questioned and he was never afraid to put his body on the line.
He grew up in an era where rules were not as strict as they are today regarding concussions and Head Injury Assessment (HIA) and admitted that could now be affecting him.
“They can’t be sure what cause it, maybe something popped up later in life, but they think maybe a contributor could have been some of the concussions I’ve had and the continual head knocks,” Andrew said.
“I was scared before I had these final scans because like everyone when something goes wrong you Google it and it comes up the worst-case scenario.
“But the doctors and professors I’m seeing said, ‘Look you get your medication levels right and you can live a normal life.’”
Andrew revealed he had been battling seizures since 2016 and the first one he suffered occurred while he was commentating a NRL finals game for Channel Nine.
“I was up there commentating and all of a sudden something came on and my body, and then I went into this trance-like state,” Andrew said.
“I went into this dream, like a daydream, it’s hard to describe but you go into this déjà vu, seeing where you’ve been before, everything goes quiet and I don’t know, it just hit me.
“Then I came out of it and I was sitting in the comm box and obviously I didn’t say nothing for a while and the producer came up and said, ‘Mate are you all right?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, yeah.’
“Later that night I went home and went straight to bed which is pretty much a first and then I woke up in the morning and had two big puncture marks in my tongue and my tongue had swelled right up.”
Johns also shared he had recently become a father again for the third time with his partner Kate and showed he had lost none of his larrikin sense of humour after quipping he was unable to get up in the middle of the night to feed his daughter Alice because he needed sleep to avoid a seizure.
“I wouldn’t say it’s better, it’s just different,” Andrew said.
“From a personal point of view that’s because I’m far more settled now.
“I was nowhere near ready when I was younger, when I was 25 but I actually love it. I love being a father and I couldn’t love Alice any more like my two older boys.”